MACARONI ASKS: I’m 12 years old, and I was wondering what you think about me playing it. I haven’t yet, and when i asked my dad (because he has it) he was pretty vague. I asked some friends of ours who have the game and they said the game wasn’t that gory or anything, just scary. Now I don’t like many scary things, but I can handle some things, so I wanted to know how scary it is, because I really want to play it. I’m pretty mature, I think (-: and I think I could handle it. I haven’t asked my dad recently, and he played it, just not much. Anyway, I wanted your opinion on if I should play it or not.
And here’s the pertinent part, the Kid Factor – all by our one-time contributor: Dave Long – it’s important to note that the game was Rated T-Teen when it first came out and was upped to M partially due to a loud but small parental outcry and a misleading complaint about nudity – there was a hack where you could make characters nude. It’s been fixed and was more silly than offensive to begin with:
This game should be rated M-Mature. It features many adult situations and the violence is more graphic than a T rating implies. When you journey into Oblivion, the Hell-like plane of existence that runs red with rivers of lava and hangs with the mutilated corpses of the dead, it becomes plainly obvious that someone missed the mark. Many of the subquests are no less adult. One easily found and accepted one has you tracking down someone providing high quality goods for low prices to a local vendor. He’s “digging them up”. Nothing especially graphic appears onscreen, but the dialogue and situation are just not Teen friendly.
There’s a new question that this game raises with regard to the rating system. If you can do something that would normally score a game a Mature rating, but you leave it up to the player whether to do that or not, should the game be rated M? In this game you can murder pretty much anyone… in cold blood… while they’re sleeping. If that type of behavior was part of the story in any other T-rated game, would it be allowed? It’s certainly a question for the ESRB. Here you’re “rewarded” for murder by getting an offer to join the Dark Brotherhood. These folks are assassins. They kill folks in their sleep as a job title. How many hitman-type games are rated T?
Thieving is an acceptable profession in the game. You pay the piper if you get caught, but stealing everyone blind is an option. Smashing someone in the head with an axe or mace is not gory, but it definitely feels like you’re snuffing the life out of that person thanks to realistic physics. Afterward, you leave their cold, dead, unfeeling virtual corpse wherever you bashed it. Usually you want to take their stuff along to sell too, leaving them near naked (the female corpses are left in a bra and panties, the men in what looks like a loincloth) wherever they died. Come back in a couple game days and they might still be there. You can even pick up their lifeless frames and move them around. Toss them off a cliff if you like.
It just seems way too rough for the rating it received. All the things described above are so far beyond acceptable behavior outside of games and with the game often so intent on making everything seem “real” and trying to provide this “real” world to interact with and live within, it’s even more repulsive. Your kids are likely to do much of the above too. It’s human nature. You want to mess with things and see what happens, especially when it reacts realistically some of the time. It just doesn’t seem right to hand this game to a 13 year-old and let them go to town with some of those concepts. Err on the side of caution and skew this one older than the rating suggests.
I’ve never played Oblivion (shock! shudder!) but I know Bethesda’s RPGs. Despite Dave’s opinion I’d feel comfortable with a kid as young as 12 playing only because the liberal spin here is that it originally got a T. This makes it at most a “soft M.” My suggestion? Play it and discuss it with your dad as you play. He was once an RPG fan, right? So it’s something you have in common and he can help you with any scary parts or questionable stuff. Oblivion, above all, is a giant explorable world and I think that kind of gaming is good for teens.
So, yeah, 12 ok with some kind of parental involvement.